Over the past weeks, the nation has been in a deep freeze and speculation has surrounded whether or not the Super Bowl XLVIII would be upstaged by the polar vortex. According to the National Weather Service, the game is now expecting a high of 29 degrees in the evening with zero chance of precipitation. With Super Bowl Sunday coinciding for the first time with Groundhog Day, climate is no longer a ‘tree hugger’ topic as weather conditions continue to force it into the mainstream.
For years, the NFL Environmental Program and the host cities community partners like the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee have been hosting community events as part of a larger environmental movement around green games, green stadiums and the wiser use of resources. Events connect people and communities, and through this bond neighborhoods build awareness for boosting their sustainability efforts. These events included the Super Community Coat Drive, e-waste recycling in Times Square, 61 sustainability measures at MetLife Stadium and stewardship projects that added 27,000 trees and shrubs to the city.
Credit: Green Restaurant Association
Engaging the local community is a great step for creating a ‘new normal’ where citizens become part of the solution in building toward a sustainable future. If you are thinking of incorporating green behaviors in your community or organization, here is a simple guide to making it a success:
Step 1: Make a Commitment and be a Game Changer.
Just like publicizing your New Year’s resolutions, making a commitment public is a great way to stick to your plan. As colleges and national sports organizations continue to compete to be the greenest and establish green teams to implement sustainability policies, these steps become real when the campus or community is aware and participating.
Step 2: Do a Needs Assessment.
Prior to taking steps for change, it is wise to assess what is needed and to determine a baseline or benchmark to identify opportunities for improvement and savings. A good example is the amount of electricity consumed by an NFL football stadium and the potential to offset this by adding LED light fixtures and 1,350 solar PV panels.
MetLife Stadium, Credit: NRG, Energy Inc.
Step 3: Set Goals.
In an effort to bring awareness to reuse in communities, Tradepal, set a dual goal, this year, to implement its technology in 100 campuses nationwide and save 20,000 metric tons of carbon by June 2014. This is part of a larger effort focusing on our carbon footprints by quantifying the impact of reuse and offering communities a cost-effective carbon reduction initiative.
Step 4: Create an Action Plan.
Once the goals are established, clearly define the steps and establish the respective roles of members. Preparing best practices will help boost everyone’s efforts. Once everyone is onboard, the plan is communicated and goals are set, it is time to incentivize and encourage others to be part of the solution. A tracking system with metrics is beneficial to track and monitor progress.
Step 5: Evaluate Progress and Recognize Achievements.
Measuring the results and reviewing the action plan will help to evaluate whether any adjustments are needed in order to reach the goal. This may include adding more partners to keep the momentum up. Creating awareness for excellence by publicizing the achievements of partners and recognizing the efforts of individuals is also important.
Collectively the many organizations, partners and teams have taken effective steps toward reducing their carbon emissions and that of the host cities and area communities this Super Bowl. Through community events and lessons from the sports industry, neighborhoods can experience first-hand the benefits of building a cultural shift toward environmental awareness.
No matter which team wins Super Bowl XLVIII, both the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks have made great strides in raising the bar on sustainability.
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